FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The DeLay Scandal Isn’t a Partisan Issue

Albany, New York

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas is currently taking heat for his association with Jack Abramoff, a notorious DC lobbyist who is accused of bilking millions out of his Native American clients. Currently Abramoff is under investigation by the Justice Department as well as the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for the work his lobbying gang did for seven different Indian tribes between 2000 and 2004.

Trouble is Rep. DeLay isn’t the only Washington politician who has a sordid history with Mr. Abramoff. According to federal disclosure reports, Montana Senator Conrad Burns has received over $150,000 from the tribes during the period Abramoff’s cartel was representing their gaming interests.

Not surprisingly, Burns’ opposition in the Big Sky country is blushing with excitement. The Democrats are accusing the long-time Senator of violating ethics rules when he used his influence to help get the Saginaw Chippewas, an Indian tribe from Michigan, a fat $3 million grant for a school construction project in 2003.

Senator Burns is currently the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Interior subcommittee, which oversees all federal funding to Native American tribes.

“Burns carried Jack Abramoff’s water on a very important bill,” Brad Martin, the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party told the Great Falls Tribune. “Montanans have a right to know.”

Despite Martin’s complaint, the committee has yet to announce whether they will take up his call to investigate Senator Burns.

To add more spice to the ordeal, after Congress awarded the grant to the Saginaw Chipewas, Burns’ former chief of staff, William Brooke, went to work for Abramoff’s profitable lobbying group.

Of course Burns’ spokesperson James Pendleton claims his virtuous boss was not influenced by the Saginaw Chippewas’ $36,000 donation.

Pendleton claims money doesn’t buy policy. Yeah right.

Liberals in Montana are hoping to prove that Burns was indeed influenced by the contributions. They’d love nothing more than to evict the right-wing Republican from of his plush DC office. And it seems they’ll pounce on anything that helps to make the case for his ejection.

Despite what the Democrats claim, however, the Abramoff saga is not a partisan issue — it is just one page in a much larger volume of dirty Washington tales and campaign sleaze.

The Montana Democrat’s grumbling about Burns comes at a favorable time as well. The Senator is up for reelection in 2006. But truth is, the Dems are slinging mud at a selective target, while they ignore the fact that Burns’ Montana rival, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, also scored $7,000 from the casino tribes while Abramoff was serving as their lobbyist.

Senator Baucus has not been accused of lending any favors to the tribes. But it isn’t just Baucus and Burns that the tribes have showered with gifts. While clients of Abramoff, the tribes donated well over $3 million to more than a dozen candidates of both political parties. The tribes collective hope? Protect their lucrative gambling interests.

Funny thing is, Indian gambling has long been a Democratic, not a Republican project. In 1990, according to FEC records, the Democrats received 100% of the contributions made in the interest of Indian gaming. By 2000, of the $4.3 million donated to both parties, the Democrats received 79% of those funds. In the 2004 election cycle the Democrats pocketed $4.7 million compared to the Republicans $2.3 million.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which is at the heart of the DeLay probe, gave the Democrats hundreds of thousands of dollars over the period Abramoff was serving as their voice in Washington.

Between 2000 and 2001, while Abramoff was still on the tribes pay roll, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians gave the Democrats $95,000 in soft cash. That was 44% of their total soft money contributions to federal candidates that year.

It is clear that influence peddling in Washington is not a partisan issue. And even though Abramoff is a powerful Republican lobbyist, he has few qualms with his clients paying off politicians of either party. For example, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which was represented by Abramoff in 2000, gave 72% of their total contributions to Democrats that same year. And the list goes on.

So before DeLay’s adversaries break down his office doors, and haul the scoundrel off to the guillotine — the Democrats better take a long hard look at their own relationship with Mr. Abramoff — as the Republicans weren’t the only ones to benefit from his misdeeds.

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be published by Common Courage Press. You can pre-order a copy at discounted rate at www.BrickBurner.org. Josh can be reached at: Joshua@BrickBurner.org.

 

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail